Pope Francis expressed in a message at the major U.N. climate change summit in Peru this week that the consequences of environmental change represent a "serious ethical and moral responsibility," and warned that the time for action is running out.
Francis warned Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of the Environment of Peru and President-Designate of the conference, that neglect and inaction on the issue could have very serious consequences for the planet and humanity.
The Roman Catholic Church leader said that "we can find solutions only if we act together and agree." He urged a collective response that is free from political or economic influences, one that overcomes mistrust and promotes a culture of solidarity and dialogue.
The climate change meeting in Lima, which is wrapping up on Friday, brought together thousands of negotiators from 195 countries to discuss an international agreement aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other man-made problems.
The negotiators are trying to reach agreements on deals in time for the upcoming Paris summit on climate change in 2015.
A number of major political leaders also spoke out during the conference, including American Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry called climate change "an issue that no public official can ignore," and warned: "If we continue down the same path that we are on today, the world as we know it will change profoundly and will change dramatically for the worse."
Voice of America News noted that there has been some debate at the conference between developing nations and wealthier ones about who bears more responsibility for climate change. Kerry said that more than half of all carbon emissions on Earth come a result of the practices of poorer countries, but called on all nations to work together for solutions.
Francis has spoken out about environmental issues a number of times during his Vatican leadership, and in May warned that if humans destroy God's "greatest gift" of creation, it will in turn destroy them.
"He urged people to nurture and safeguard Creation as God's greatest gift to us, because while God always forgives, Creation never forgives and – he warned – if we destroy Creation, in the end it will destroy us," The Vatican Radio reported on Francis' remarks back then.
Francis has reminded the audience at the Vatican of the importance of creation in his speeches:
"If God sees that Creation is something good and beautiful, we too must have this attitude, we must see that Creation is something good and beautiful. The gift of knowledge, of this beauty, we have to thank God for having given us this gift, this beauty," the pontiff said in May.